A six month trial of HomeBank, a home-banking scheme from Lloyds Bank Plc designed for personal and small business customers, went live on Thursday. The bank has chosen 1,000 customers to help test the system, developed for Lloyds at a cost of over UKP1m by computer consultants CMG Information Services Ltd. The system offers all the services currently available at cash tills, with added facilities for paying gas, electricity and telephone bills, ordering travellers cheques and amending or stopping standing orders and direct debits. Homebank uses a portable NBS Taltek 727 terminal which is connected via an adaptor to a telephone, an Autophon voice response system and Tandem Computer fault-tolerant minis. Customers gain access to the system by picking up the telephone, swiping their Cashpoint card through the terminal reader and entering their PIN on the keyboard. All subsequent instructions are entered through the keyboard, and checked by the voice response. The Taltek 727 chosen by Lloyds for the project is a modified version of an existing authorisation-based terminal produced by National Business Systems, Mississauga, Ontario. It uses an 8-bit processor, has a 64Kb memory capacity and offers epoxy resin coated boards and an encrypting facility built into the software for added security. HomeBank will have access to the information currently stored on the existing IBM Cashpoint cash dispensers, and additional account data, relating to standing orders and direct debits, will be stored on the Tandem processors. For the trial, 18 lines will be available to HomeBank users, although Lloyds acknowledges that if the trial period proves successful, extensive redevelopment of the system will be necessary to cope with customer demand. The fact that a few small businesses as well as private individuals are taking part in the trial may mean that Lloyds will have to recast its plans for the system: as with Prestel, which was conceived as a home information service but in the event was overwhelmingly adopted by businesses, Lloyds may well find that the attractions of electronic banking appeal much more to small companies than they do to the fireside market.